On a sweltering hot Sunday morning the cream of the crop of South African Aerobatics pilots came together at Vereeniging Airport for the last competition of the 2018 calendar. Ace of Base is a competition like no other any one of the competitors stands a chance of walking away with the coveted title of “ACE OF BASE”. In any other competition the winner of the unlimited class in declared the winner of the competition, at Ace of Base however the pilot with the highest aggregate score form any of the classes is declared the overall winner.
The morning got off to an early start with the briefing taking place at the foot of the tower just after 8:00 where the competition rules are briefly explained to the pilots.
Soon after that it was time for the Sportsman Class pilots to get airborne for their “Known” Sequence. Johan von Solms flying one of the “Goodyear Eagles” Pitts specials manged a very respectable 76.427% setting the bar pretty high for the rest of the field.
The Intermediate class was next with the Glen “Gringo” Warden snapping at Johan heels with a 75.619%, Glen flew in his newly acquired Slick 360. Last years “Ace of Base”, Charles “Borris” Urban was not far behind with a 72.527% Charles was competing in a Yak 52 this year.
Glen “Gringo” Warden
Charles “Borris” Urban
As the wind started to pick up the Advanced Class pilots got airborne Gary Glasson dominated the class, in his Pitts Falcon, with a brilliant 77.564% which also saw him move to the top of the overall leader board.
Gary Glasson's Pitts Falcon
Unfortunately there were only two Unlimited pilots taking part Nigel Hopkins and Barrie Eeles both in Extra 330SC’s. Nigel manged a brilliant score of 79.798% which placed him firmly at the top of the leader board after the known sequences but that could change quickly with the unknown and free sequences still to come.
Nigel Hopkins preparing for his flight
After a quick bite to eat it was time for the Spotmans Class to get underway with their free sequence, Ivan van der Schaar in a Pitts Special took top honours with a total of 70.930% Johan von Solms came in second with 68.796%.
Ivan van der Schaar Pitts Special
In the Intermediate Class it was a very close tussle for top position between Charles Urban and Glen Warden, Charles managed to beat Glen into second place with a 0.2% margin, with a total of 71.476%.
Charles “Borris” Urban
With the wind pumping and the threatening clouds building it was time for the Advanced pilots to take to the air for their Unknown sequence, Gary Glasson was once again streaks ahead of his competition scoring 76.335% but would this be enough to take the overall title of “Ace of Base”
Barrie Eeles manged the score of his life with a 81.085% in the Unlimited Unknown sequence, Barrie expertly threw his Extra 330SC around the sky and in the process beating his mentor Nigel Hopkins into second place.
Barrie Eeles Extra 330SC
After the Unlimited Class it was time for the Judges, John Gaillard, Quintin Hawthorne, Laszlo Liszkay, Johnie Smith and Cindy Weber under the watchful eye of Competition Director Adam Pucjlowski and Scoring Director Natalie Stark, to tally up and see who would emerge as the overall winner.
After an anxious wait Gary Glasson was crowned as The “2018 ACE OF BASE” Gary’s constancy in both rounds of the competition ensured him the title.
Gary receiving the trophy from Natalie Stark
Nigel Hopkins in a well-deserved second place, with less than 1% separating him from Gary. Despite flying the best score on the day in his Unknown sequence Barrie Eeles was place third overall.
Thanks must go to the Sports Aerobatic Club of South Africa and the management of Vereeniging airfield for a wonderful competition in one of the best venues for aerobatics in South Africa.
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